Bamboo Shoots

Not a Nichijou post, sorry.

I am not really an insider with regards to MangaGamers and their relationship with the various bishoujo game makers/eroge scenesters, pro and otherwise. It feels, at times, a fairly close knit circle because it’s full of small timers doing something that they like, making a living off it. It’s kind of the feel you get from how characters relate to each other in Koe de Oshigoto. In some extreme cases, it really is a family business, like in 07th Expansion’s case (and others I’m sure).

But from seeing the way he does things, both at AX last year and now in the thread he started in the forum of the company he produced (it sometimes gets left in the cracks, but it’s vital to remember that MG is a company created by the Japanese!), I get the idea that he has a solid grasp of the issues surrounding the growth, sales, proliferation of these games.

So when he decides to go directly to the BBS, it makes you wonder why. He’s also taking requirements for their made-for-foreign-player tourism game (granted it looks close to be completed). By “taking requirements” I mean he’s soliciting opinions on it. But anyways, it’s interesting to note a few things. I’ll just quote EvoSpace’s translation:

First of all, I would like to start from the current status of the Japanese bishoujo game industry.

<Current Status>
Many companies in Tokyo and nearby regions were heavily affected by the earthquake in March and their schedules were thrown off. Although the damage may differ in size, companies working with MangaGamer, such as Circus, OVERDRIVE, Navel were all affected as well.

This has finally calmed down now in May, but it’s still not safe to assume things. I wouldn’t say it is bad as Fallout3, but we are still having difficult times.

It’s cute, and by Fallout 3, heh. There totally needs a game that uses American oldies and pairs that with the Japanese visual novel experience. Ideally, it wouldn’t “heavy” or “noire.”

<About the titles we are negotiating>
As a premise, most of the bishoujo game companies in Japan make their games with the minimal number of staff, and obviously, their main market is Japan. And because of piracy and the unknown size of the overseas market, many times, they are uncomfortable about working with us, and it takes quite a long time to have them understand what we are trying to do. As the producer of OVERDRIVE, my company is not that big either. Yet, I am trying my best to go around trying to talk to different companies while releasing our games in Japan.

Most Japanese game companies are thinking this,
– Is it really going to sell overseas?
– What about the laws?
– Is there a demand?

This probably is on the mind of 90% of the companies that you wish for. Since sales in Japan is going down recently, it is even more diffcult for them to look at the overseas market.

We’ve been running MangaGamer for a while, and have visually seen that there are indeed fans and demands, and our sales has been increasing over the years gradually. Using such data, we are trying to negotiate with several game companies.

So, first, MangaGamer is doing better than before. That’s good news. It’s a big takeaway.

The second concern is well-phrased. I think Bamboo is realistic and understands that ultimately the western VN community is full of people who would buy games, but also full of people who would pirate them. There’s an overlap, of course, but it does nobody any good to dwell on it. It’s probably better to think of it as an availability issue. It would be reasonable to pin the lack of availability as one of the primary reason people pirate stuff, after all. With digital distribution, this is even more of a glaring gap.

Looking back from the perspective of a Japanese development house, then, the same issue is one based on increasing risk. That’s how I read “Is it really going to sell” and “Is there demand”? I think there’s nothing we can do about laws, but there is money to be made. To that end, Bamboo’s statements is pretty simple: buy his games. I’m not a big customer of MangaGamers, so I’m indifferent about it, but if the proof is to be in the pudding, he’s well on the way to make some.

<minori and ef series>
We are still working on this game with minori.
They are the ones helping us with the actual development of the English version.
We are taking a good care of the translated script, even if it is fan translated.

<age and MuvLuv series>
“Muv Luv” is a big title from age, and they take significant care about their games. It’s not that they are ignoring the overseas fan, but because they still put their priority in the Japanese market, their response is slow. The Japanese fans refer to their 3 years as “1 age”. That’s how long and serious their development span is.

Also, they just announced the Xbox360 version but it took a while until they told me about those things. However, it’s natural that they needed to keep things a secret until the announcement. For a large budget game such as that, not only the game company, but several companies may invest for its rights. This is called the “Development Council” in Japan and it is a common form of how anime are produced. Although there are some merits, there is the demerit that unless all of the members of the “Development Council” agree, they can’t make decisions.

It’s a good insight into how a big game production is like versus the little ones that localization companies typically deal with.

The rest of the post contain the plea from Bamboo about improving the image of western market in terms of piracy and what not. I think that’s a long, long road, but one that has an end. If people really like the stuff, they ought to walk it. And maybe talking despite the language barrier is a start.

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2 responses to “Bamboo Shoots

  • NegativeZero

    I like what Mangagamer is doing. Unfortunately they’ve never really licensed or attempted to license much that particularly interests me, aside from Muv-Luv Alternative, but even that sounds like maybe it’s not the done deal that it appeared to be earlier. Perhaps that’s actually related to the leaking of the beta version of the translation patch.

  • omo

    I don’t know about Muv-Luv, but a concern is certainly that…

    I think licensing what people want is the fundamental thing they have to do. Go tell them what you want, lol.

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